Excavating concealed tradeoffs: How Russians watch the news
Citizens in democracies are expected to make better decisions if they understand policy tradeoffs. However, politicians rarely have incentives to communicate them; citizens are uncomfortable choosing among valued outcomes; and devising a common metric is difficult. It is not surprising that in the United States the environment provides relatively little cuing or priming of tradeoffs in television news. Russian citizens, on the other hand, face a media environment in which tradeoff cuing is intentionally suppressed by owners' agendas, yet viewers detect concealed tradeoffs even in the absence of tradeoff priming and viewpoint diversity. Analysis of discourse among ordinary Russians in 16 focus groups convened in four cities, differentiated by political reform and media market environments, showed that when watching news in which tradeoffs are thoroughly concealed, viewers challenge stories by offering a broad spectrum of uncued tradeoffs. Tradeoffs come from diverse policy domains and represent a range of cognitive strategies, some of which are considerably more abstract than others and link elements of their observations and assumptions (together with what they can extract from the stories) into complex reasoning outcomes. Copyright © 2005 Taylor & Francis Inc.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)